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New Scientist - Home

UN biodiversity summit could move from China due to coronavirus

Fri, 28 Feb 2020 18:11:21 +0000

A major United Nations biodiversity summit to negotiate plans to stop the loss of species around the world could be moved from China because of the coronavirus outbreak

Binge watching TV isn't as bad for the climate as some reports suggest

Fri, 28 Feb 2020 16:43:02 +0000

Two analyses suggest earlier studies overestimated CO2 emissions due to the massive growth in internet traffic and video streaming, but they are still substantial

Coronavirus pandemic threatens to knock $1 trillion off global economy

Fri, 28 Feb 2020 15:43:59 +0000

Financial markets around the world have suffered their worst week since the 2008 financial crash, as the economic impact of the coronavirus edging towards a pandemic becomes clearer

Astronomers have discovered the biggest explosion in the universe

Fri, 28 Feb 2020 11:06:12 +0000

A huge black hole in a distant galaxy caused the largest explosion we have ever seen, with the energy of 10 billion suns – and it isn't clear why it was so big

Ancient viruses buried in our DNA may reawaken and cause illness

Wed, 26 Feb 2020 18:00:00 +0000

Stress or infection may prompt viruses hidden in our genome to stagger back to life, contributing to some cases of multiple sclerosis, diabetes and schizophrenia

What to watch on Netflix if you love science fiction

Fri, 28 Feb 2020 10:29:02 +0000

Stranger Things, Black Mirror and Russian Doll are among the best science fiction shows to watch on Netflix at the moment

Rocket start-up Astra tries back-to-back launches to win $12 million

Fri, 28 Feb 2020 07:00:00 +0000

A space flight start-up called Astra is about to attempt to launch two small rockets into orbit over a few weeks to win $12 million from the US military

US opioid crisis: 100,000 overdose deaths may have gone uncounted

Thu, 27 Feb 2020 20:00:03 +0000

A new analysis suggests that 100,000 overdose deaths in the US due to unspecified drugs were actually caused by opioids – bringing the total death count to more than 450,000 people

First private space rescue mission sees two satellites latch together

Thu, 27 Feb 2020 19:39:13 +0000

A private satellite that is low on fuel could survive five more years because another satellite has come to its rescue – a technique that could be used by future service spacecraft

We process a song's lyric and melody on different sides of the brain

Thu, 27 Feb 2020 19:00:25 +0000

Listening to songs is a complex task for the brain, so it uses the left hemisphere to process the lyrics while the right hemisphere processes the melody

It turns out loads of frogs and salamanders are fluorescent

Thu, 27 Feb 2020 16:00:48 +0000

We knew that some fish glowed when placed under certain lights, but researchers have now shown that many amphibians can also shine bright

Weird worm is earliest known animal to evolve away body parts

Thu, 27 Feb 2020 16:00:42 +0000

A worm-like creature from 518 million years ago evolved to lose its back legs, the earliest known example of an animal losing body parts it no longer needed

Gut bacteria may be responsible for bowel disorders including cancers

Thu, 27 Feb 2020 16:00:36 +0000

One kind of bacteria can cause colon tumours, while lacking another kind of microbe may lead to ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel condition

Coronavirus: What you need to know to prepare for a covid-19 pandemic

Thu, 27 Feb 2020 15:54:58 +0000

With the covid-19 virus spreading in a growing number of countries, many of us are wondering if and how we should prepare. Here's what to do

The atmosphere gets in the way of the universe’s most amazing objects

Wed, 26 Feb 2020 18:00:00 +0000

Earth’s atmosphere thankfully provides air for us to breathe, but when trying to study interesting objects in space it causes all sorts of problems, writes Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

China’s rover has discovered what lies beneath the moon’s far side

Wed, 26 Feb 2020 19:00:18 +0000

China’s Yutu-2 rover has used radar to peer 40 metres under the surface of the far side of the moon and revealed how past impacts have shaped its geology

Politicians are mulling a global tax rate to tame the tech giants

Thu, 27 Feb 2020 12:19:17 +0000

Tech firms are making record profits but paying little tax. Now global leaders are discussing ways to make them pay their fair share

People who get lost in the wild follow strangely predictable paths

Wed, 26 Feb 2020 18:00:00 +0000

Lose your bearings in an unfamiliar landscape and fear shreds your navigational brain. But studies are now revealing the common mistakes lost people make, helping rescue teams to find them before it’s too late

Heathrow airport expansion ruled unlawful on climate change grounds

Thu, 27 Feb 2020 11:27:22 +0000

The UK government’s approval for a third runway to be built at Heathrow is unlawful because it doesn't consider the Paris climate deal, the Court of Appeal has ruled

Make kimchi at home by cultivating a friendly microbial ecosystem

Wed, 26 Feb 2020 18:00:00 +0000

Encouraging the growth of benign bacteria is a tasty way to preserve vegetables, such as with this easy kimchi recipe, says Sam Wong

Red panda genes suggest there are actually two different species

Wed, 26 Feb 2020 19:00:34 +0000

Genetic analysis suggests that the Himalayan and Chinese red pandas are two different species that diverged about 200,000 years ago

E-scooters are a disaster for cities – but we must embrace them

Wed, 26 Feb 2020 18:00:00 +0000

Electric scooters are a nightmare. Rented by the minute, they clog up pavements and are an ungainly eyesore, but we still need them, says Donna Lu

New Scientist survey shows science jobs are long and fulfilling

Wed, 26 Feb 2020 17:00:00 +0000

The annual New Scientist/SRG salary survey shows that science careers remained hugely satisfying despite the economic turmoil of 2019

The Invisible Man: How science can really make things invisible

Wed, 26 Feb 2020 16:20:12 +0000

A new movie reimagines H.G. Wells's novel The Invisible Man. We still can't make people invisible, but it is possible to make tiny objects completely disappear

Earth has acquired a brand new moon that's about the size of a car

Wed, 26 Feb 2020 16:24:44 +0000

Astronomers have spotted an asteroid that has been captured by Earth's gravity, making it a temporary mini-moon. It will probably fly away again in April

We have only just figured out how human feet work

Wed, 26 Feb 2020 16:00:33 +0000

Just how humans evolved the stiff feet that allow us to walk and run has been something of a mystery, but now researchers say a bony arch structure is the key

How everyone decided trees will save the planet – and why they won’t

Wed, 26 Feb 2020 15:20:00 +0000

Everyone seems to agree trees are a major solution to climate change, but there is a danger that mass reforestation could see us to continue pumping carbon into the atmosphere

Covid-19: Why won't the WHO officially declare a coronavirus pandemic?

Wed, 26 Feb 2020 12:42:44 +0000

With outbreaks in multiple countries, the new coronavirus looks like a pandemic, but the World Health Organization won't declare one because governments may react in the wrong way

Thousands of Denisovan tools reveal their Stone Age technologies

Wed, 26 Feb 2020 08:00:31 +0000

A cache of Denisovan tools shows how these extinct humans moved from using sharp stone flakes 150,000 years ago to stone blades and chisels around 60,000 years ago

Aboriginal Australians hunted kangaroos with dingoes a century ago

Wed, 26 Feb 2020 08:00:27 +0000

As recently as 110 years ago, Aboriginal Australians used dingoes to help hunt kangaroos even though the canines are feral and difficult to train

Our galaxy’s huge black hole may have created organic molecules

Wed, 26 Feb 2020 06:00:50 +0000

The enormous black hole at the centre of the Milky Way was active millions of years ago, and its intense X-rays may have formed some molecules necessary for life

The antimatter factory about to solve the universe's greatest mystery

Wed, 26 Feb 2020 06:00:00 +0000

Why is there something rather than nothing? We’re finally making enough antimatter to extract an answer – and it might reveal the dark side of the universe too

Seagulls are more likely to pick up food that humans have handled

Wed, 26 Feb 2020 00:01:21 +0000

Seagulls are known for aggressively attempting to swipe people's food, and it seems that when given the choice between identical meals, they favour the one handled by humans

Exclusive: Brain scans used to read minds of intensive care patients

Tue, 25 Feb 2020 17:21:03 +0000

People with severe brain injuries can be unable to communicate. Now brain scanners are being used to see if some can tell doctors what kind of care they want

Covid-19: Our chance to contain the coronavirus may already be over

Mon, 24 Feb 2020 12:34:53 +0000

We don’t know the sources of many of the covid-19 cases in South Korea and Italy, suggesting the virus is now spreading untraceably among communities

I scanned thousands of research images by eye to expose academic fraud

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 18:00:00 +0000

Elisabeth Bik is on a mission to detect duplicate images in scientific papers, exposing either genuine mistakes or signs of fraud. But her work isn't always appreciated, she says

World’s stinkiest fruit could make super-fast electric chargers

Tue, 25 Feb 2020 08:00:07 +0000

Durian fruits, famous for their bad smell, could be used to make electrodes in ultra-fast chargers for electric cars and gadgets

Lush island landscape in Polish lake captured from above

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 18:00:00 +0000

To find subjects to photograph, Kacper Kowalski takes to the air in a paramotor or gyrocopter, barely steering to allow the wind to dictate the direction

Svalbard doomsday vault gets first big seed deposit since upgrade

Tue, 25 Feb 2020 00:01:02 +0000

Around 60,000 new seeds are being safeguarded in an Arctic vault, including sacred corn from the Cherokee Nation, Brazilian onions and European crab apples

Woman urinates alcohol without drinking due to yeast in her bladder

Mon, 24 Feb 2020 22:00:25 +0000

A woman was denied a liver transplant after repeatedly failing alcohol tests – but she hadn’t been drinking. It turns out that yeast in her bladder was to blame

We really can control the weather - but it may not be very useful

Mon, 24 Feb 2020 20:00:54 +0000

Researchers have finally demonstrated that cloud seeding leads to a measurable increase in precipitation, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is worth doing

Animal that doesn't need oxygen to survive discovered

Mon, 24 Feb 2020 20:00:26 +0000

All animals rely on oxygen at least at some stage of their life, but a parasite that infects fish seems to have completely lost the ability to use it – where it gets its energy from is still a mystery

The WHO still isn’t describing covid-19 as a pandemic

Mon, 24 Feb 2020 18:12:30 +0000

Using the word "pandemic" to describe the novel coronavirus outbreak could cause fear, according to Tedros Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization

Australia bush fires burned a globally unprecedented area of forest

Mon, 24 Feb 2020 16:00:51 +0000

Australia’s recent extreme wildfires burned 5.8 million hectares of forest, destroying about one fifth of the forest biome in eastern Australia over four months

Solar storms may interfere with the ability of whales to navigate

Mon, 24 Feb 2020 16:00:14 +0000

Healthy grey whales are four times more likely to become stranded when solar activity produces lots of radio noise, suggesting solar storms may be blinding their ability to sense magnetic fields

Five things we have learned about Mars from NASA's InSight mission

Mon, 24 Feb 2020 16:00:10 +0000

NASA’s InSight lander has been on the surface of Mars for over a year now – here are five of its strangest and most fascinating discoveries from the Red Planet

Billion-year-old fossil seaweeds could be ancestors of all land plants

Mon, 24 Feb 2020 16:00:09 +0000

Green seaweed fossils found in a billion-year-old rock are the oldest complex plants discovered, and may have given rise to plants that evolved to live on land

For All Mankind's alternate history of the space race is brilliant

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 18:00:00 +0000

When the Soviet Union lands on the moon first people in the US are shocked. But For All Mankind provides an even bigger surprise when one cosmonaut's identity is revealed, says Emily Wilson

The Good Place is over, but I’m never going to say goodbye

Mon, 24 Feb 2020 16:00:18 +0000

The Good Place, a sitcom on Netflix about an afterlife with characters who represent me at my worst – and best – is over, but I can’t stop rewatching the show, says Chelsea Whyte

We now know how much our genes influence the risk of contracting HIV

Mon, 24 Feb 2020 10:00:24 +0000

A study of 13,000 people suggests that genetics strongly shapes how likely you are to contract HIV if you are exposed to the virus

Keep raising money to save the pandas - it helps other animals too

Mon, 24 Feb 2020 10:00:06 +0000

Some conservationists have criticised fundraising efforts that focus on "flagship" species like pandas or tigers, warning this could harm less well-known species, but that turns out not to be the case

A planet could have been stolen from the solar system as it formed

Sun, 23 Feb 2020 10:00:52 +0000

Stars like our sun formed in a dense cluster with thousands of others, during which time they may have swapped planets

Why the human race may be less gullible than you think

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 18:00:00 +0000

Many classic psychology experiments have found humans to be pretty gullible. But book Not Born Yesterday argues that such a trait runs against the logic of natural selection

Dark Waters: Mark Ruffalo stars in epic fight with chemicals giant

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 18:00:00 +0000

After cows start dying and people get sick, a corporate lawyer in the film Dark Waters decides to switch sides and take on chemicals Goliath DuPont

A wobbling star may explain pattern of weird radio signals from space

Fri, 21 Feb 2020 17:50:56 +0000

We’ve spotted strange blasts of radio waves from space in a pattern that may be produced by a magnetised neutron star wobbling as it spins

Don't stress: The scientific secrets of people who keep cool heads

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 06:00:00 +0000

Studies of the world's most unflappable people point to ways we can all better manage stress – and are even inspiring the first stress vaccine

CRISPR safety switch can make cells self-destruct if they go rogue

Fri, 21 Feb 2020 16:18:30 +0000

A genetic tweak can make cells self-destruct in the presence of CRISPR and could be used to make cells tamper-proof or shut them down if they go wrong

Robots are taking manufacturing jobs but making firms more productive

Fri, 21 Feb 2020 13:02:54 +0000

Robots are replacing manufacturing workers in France, making companies more productive and reducing employment across the industry

Why climate change is creating more female sea turtles and crocodiles

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 18:00:00 +0000

As the world gets warmer, animals whose sex is determined by temperature are finding cool ways to control their own fate. But can they adapt in time?

Earliest known cave-dwelling animal is a 99-million-year-old cockroach

Thu, 20 Feb 2020 19:24:19 +0000

The earliest cave-dwelling animal identified from the dinosaur era is a ghostly white cockroach with tiny eyes and wings that was preserved in amber

We don't know how covid-19 spread on the Diamond Princess cruise ship

Thu, 20 Feb 2020 17:03:55 +0000

There are a number of open questions as to how the covid-19 coronavirus spread on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, where passengers were quarantined since 3 February

Some ants disinfect food by drinking the acid they spray at enemies

Thu, 20 Feb 2020 15:53:46 +0000

A number of ant species produce acid in a poison gland in their abdomen to spray at enemies, and now it seems they also drink it to kill pathogens in their food

Journey to the Savage Planet is wacky – but not in a good way

Thu, 20 Feb 2020 16:18:12 +0000

There’s nothing like crash-landing on an alien planet. Journey to the Savage Planet doesn't always get it right, but it has echoes of classic Metroid Prime, says Jacob Aron

Lab-grown meat will be on your plate soon. It won't be what you expect

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 18:00:00 +0000

Forget fake steaks, the first cultured meat we're likely to eat will be shrimp. How will it compare to the real thing? Will it be better for the environment? And will people eat it?

Opening your windows doesn't help reduce indoor air pollution

Thu, 20 Feb 2020 12:00:29 +0000

Cleaning and cooking can produce potentially harmful chemicals that stay in the air, and now researchers have found that briefly opening a window doesn't help as these substances also stick to surfaces

Close-up image of brain cancer cells wins photography prize

Thu, 20 Feb 2020 10:52:02 +0000

A brain cell image has won the Institute of Cancer Research Science and Medical Imaging Competition, with images of melanoma cells and cancer-halting microparticles among other notable entries

Pancake day 2020: Here's a scientific recipe for better batter

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 18:00:00 +0000

This pancake batter recipe uses scientific principles to help you make amazingly fluffy, golden and tasty pancakes

Blue tits learn to avoid gross food by watching videos of other birds

Thu, 20 Feb 2020 05:01:35 +0000

Blue tits and great tits don’t need to taste unpleasant foods to avoid them – they can learn not to try them by seeing another bird’s disgusted response, even if it’s only on video

Cretaceous insect discovered with extremely weird antennae

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 21:33:31 +0000

Amber from the Cretaceous period trapped a leaf-footed bug with extremely long and wide antennae, which may have helped disguise the insect or confuse predators

Ancient humans in the Sahara ate fish before the lakes dried up

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 19:00:27 +0000

As a changing climate dried out the Sahara desert, ancient humans transitioned from eating lots of tilapia and catfish to more mammal-heavy meals

Hunt through satellite images of Earth with an AI search engine

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 18:41:59 +0000

An AI search engine takes one-tenth of a second to search more than 2 billion satellite images, identifying natural or built features that look alike, such as forests or military bases

The 'ancestral diet' doesn't make sense and relies on lazy stereotypes

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 18:00:00 +0000

Eating like your ancestors did 5000 years ago is a fad on the rise. James Wong wonders if following the "ancestral diet" means he should eat pangolins or live a life of abject poverty

AI could help make fast-charging, long-lasting electric car batteries

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 16:00:57 +0000

Artificial intelligence is helping optimise the recharging batteries in electric vehicles, balancing speed while maximising lifespan

Antimatter looks just like matter – which is a big problem for physics

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 16:00:00 +0000

A difference in the properties of matter and antimatter could help explain our universe – but a property called the Lamb shift is similar in particles of both

Can we quit cobalt batteries fast enough to make electric cars viable?

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 14:13:19 +0000

Electric cars depend on cobalt as a key ingredient in their batteries, but a new analysis reveals we may run out by 2030, while car firm Tesla is moving to other types of battery in China

China is using mass surveillance tech to fight new coronavirus spread

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 11:40:00 +0000

QR codes, tracking apps and drones at toll booths are just some of the tech tools China is deploying to monitor the spread of the new coronavirus

Watch tadpoles breathe by sucking in air bubbles at water's surface

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 00:01:15 +0000

Most tadpoles breathe air but they are too weak to break the elastic "skin" on top of ponds created by water tension – so they suck air bubbles from the surface

Why coronavirus superspreaders may mean we avoid a deadly pandemic

Tue, 18 Feb 2020 18:01:59 +0000

The covid-19 virus may mostly be transmitted by superspreaders, which means it might be easier to contain the outbreak and prevent it going pandemic

Until the End of Time tries to use physics to find the meaning of life

Tue, 18 Feb 2020 18:05:08 +0000

Brian Greene's new book argues that life is rare and extraordinary, probably transient, and that in the search for purpose, the only significant answers are ones we create  

SpaceX has plans to fly space tourists twice as high as the ISS

Tue, 18 Feb 2020 16:22:55 +0000

SpaceX and the space tourism firm Space Adventures have announced a plan to fly paying customers into Earth orbit, higher than the International Space Station

Should animals with human genes or organs be given human rights?

Tue, 18 Feb 2020 16:00:00 +0000

Gene-edited pigs and brain implants are blurring the lines of what it means to be human, so our morals and laws may need to change to include beings that are “substantially human”

70,000-year-old remains suggest Neanderthals buried their dead

Tue, 18 Feb 2020 12:00:16 +0000

A Neanderthal skeleton unearthed in a cave in Iraq shows signs of having been deliberately buried – more evidence our cousin species behaved a little like we do

Why our understanding of concussion has been completely wrong

Wed, 12 Feb 2020 18:00:00 +0000

Concussion is often portrayed as "seeing stars", which people quickly recover from. But we are now beginning to understand that the condition is far more serious, says Elizabeth Sandel

Fungi's fabulous future in mental health and sustainable materials

Wed, 12 Feb 2020 18:00:00 +0000

These images showcase the incredible ways mushrooms can be used for everything from boosting well-being to fashioning baroque high heels

UK government refuses request to explain cost of hitting net zero

Mon, 17 Feb 2020 16:02:22 +0000

The UK government has denied a freedom of information request to explain why it estimates the cost of hitting net-zero emissions by 2050 is £70 billion a year – much higher than an independent assessment found

An exoplanet is generating radio waves from its red dwarf sun

Mon, 17 Feb 2020 16:00:49 +0000

For the first time, astronomers have spotted an exoplanet by detecting radio waves generated by interactions with its parent star

Cork-coated spacecraft to be chucked out of the ISS for re-entry test

Mon, 17 Feb 2020 13:33:11 +0000

A spacecraft designed to study re-entry into Earth's atmosphere has a nose coated in cork, a cheap and lightweight alternative to other materials

Color Out of Space: Another Nicolas Cage film that's so bad it's good

Wed, 12 Feb 2020 18:00:00 +0000

Nicolas Cage grapples with a weird luminous alien presence in the movie Color Out of Space. It's a story that has roots in a late-19th-century obsession with new forms of radiation, says Simon Ings

Cyborg grasshoppers have been engineered to sniff out explosives

Mon, 17 Feb 2020 10:41:19 +0000

The super-sensitive smelling ability of American grasshoppers has been used to create biological bomb sniffers, which could prove useful for security purposes

Sci-fi podcast Down asks what's really in the deepest holes on Earth

Wed, 12 Feb 2020 18:00:00 +0000

Down is a sci-fi podcast about a crewed mission into a mysterious Antarctic hole that has opened up as a result of climate change, what will the crew find?

Twisteddoodles has made a fantastic new discovery

Wed, 12 Feb 2020 18:00:20 +0000

This week's cartoon from Twisteddoodles

Controversial psychology tests are often still used in US courts

Fri, 14 Feb 2020 23:00:59 +0000

A third of psychological tests used in US court proceedings aren’t generally accepted by experts in the field, a study has found

US military face recognition system could work from 1 kilometre away

Sat, 15 Feb 2020 10:00:46 +0000

The US Special Operations Command is developing a portable face-recognition system designed to identify people 1 kilometre away. It could also be used by law enforcement

Tiny 2-billion-year-old fossil blobs may be the oldest complex cells

Sat, 15 Feb 2020 07:00:35 +0000

Fossils of single cells found in China are 2 billion years old, making them the oldest eukaryotic cells in the fossil record and possibly our distant relatives

75-million-year old eggshells suggest most dinosaurs were warm-blooded

Fri, 14 Feb 2020 19:00:23 +0000

An analysis of eggshells from three kinds of dinosaurs shows they were all warm-blooded, suggesting that dinosaurs’ ancestors were also warm-blooded

Great ape brains have a feature that we thought was unique to humans

Fri, 14 Feb 2020 19:00:06 +0000

Our ape cousins have asymmetrical brains just like we do, which might require us to rethink ideas on the evolution of brain specialism in our hominin ancestors

Babies are more likely to be conceived in autumn but we don’t know why

Fri, 14 Feb 2020 16:23:44 +0000

In the northern hemisphere, babies are most likely to be conceived in winter and least likely to be conceived in spring, according to an analysis of 14,000 women

When a smile is not a smile – what our facial expressions really mean

Wed, 12 Feb 2020 18:00:00 +0000

Smiling and other facial expressions aren't displays of feelings that transcend cultures but turn out to be full of hidden meaning

Astronomy group finds Starlink satellites will have 'negative impact'

Fri, 14 Feb 2020 11:57:43 +0000

The International Astronomical Union has concluded a review of satellite mega constellations such as SpaceX's Starlink satellites and found they will have a major impact on large telescopes, but not naked eye astronomy

Weather by Jenny Offill: How to cope with climate anxiety in a crisis

Fri, 14 Feb 2020 11:10:08 +0000

Jenny Offill’s sharp new novel Weather examines individual anxieties about the climate emergency and one person's journey to becoming a doomsday prepper